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Planning for Seamless Tech Support during a Disaster

The success of a technology brand or product category is highly reliant on customer relationships. Your technical support vendor shoulders much of the load for the health of those relationships through the services and interactions they provide to your customers when questions or issues arise. While the contact center may appear to be a well-oiled machine during normal day-to-day operations, how confident are you that their performance won’t slip when the unexpected happens?

Ensuring the success of your product line in the marketplace means consistency in the delivery of promises your brand makes. And, let’s face it; the contact center is one of the places that helps with promise delivery. However, the gravity of a customer issue can escalate quickly when frustration is met with disorganized, chaotic or even no response. When customers call, they want resolution through an experience that is quick, competent and gracious. They certainly don’t want busy signals, flustered agents or excuses.

Prepare For Avoidance

Your technical support vendor must be prepared to handle the ups and downs of operations in a constantly changing business environment. Preparedness and a framework for continuous improvement are two components that must be present to provide seamless customer service—regardless of what’s going on behind the scenes. And disaster won’t always look like what you’d expect.

While a business impairing event could be a power outage, earthquake or massive storm; it could also be caused by a product launch that created spectacular demand that exceeded all expectations. It could be an outbreak of flu that keeps a large number of agents away from work. It could be a data security breach or a network outage that interrupts data connectivity. Essentially, there are a number of things that can try to pull your company off track. Mitigating the potential damage from unplanned events should be a joint effort with much of the load carried by your technical support vendor—customized for your specific business needs.

The best choice your company can make to ensure a well-orchestrated, proactive response to events is to do two things:

  • First, make sure your contact center vendor has an operational framework in place that manages consistent performance and continuous improvement for day-to-day operations.
  • Second, create a Disaster Avoidance and Recovery (DAR) plan.
  • When your technical support vendor has a defined framework for operations and a process for continuous improvement, many of the controls are already in place that will need to be relied upon should an unplanned event occur. This includes agent training, elastic scalability for call volumes, the ability to reroute calls to balance loads, and more. It should also include an infrastructure designed with fault tolerance and redundancies to avoid or minimize the impact of events in the first place.

The quality of day-to-day operations is an indication of the vendor’s expertise and commitment to deliver outstanding technical support on your behalf—when things are good, as well as when they’re not. This type of operational planning and methodology should not only be a requirement but serve as an indicator of the type of disaster avoidance and recovery planning you can expect from your vendor.

The Five Operational Phases of DAR Plans

Collaborating with your services and support vendor in the creation of the DAR plan is an imperative to ensure that recovery is addressed in the manner that best suits your brand and business priorities. Recovery is often not a straight-line process, so be sure that your vendor understands the nuances.

  • Step 1: Identification. Normal monitoring should be in place that will alert the vendor that an anomaly is taking place that may or has impacted the vendor’s ability to conduct normal operations. A contact plan should be defined that will enable alerting the company and making a decision as to whether or not the DAR plan should be put into effect.
  • Step 2: Containment. It is critically important to limit the scope of impact for the event. Whether pending or in progress, steps will need to be activated to contain the impact to support operations and to begin restoration to affected processes.
  • Step 3: Recovery Operations. Once the event is contained and alternative processes have been put in place to minimize customer impact, the vendor and company must agree to a path to recovery. The vendor should have options ready for the company to evaluate and be able to explain the choices based on the potential impacts to the company’s business priorities.
  • Step 4: Salvage. If physical damages have been sustained at the site, facilities, equipment and supplies will need to be recovered and appropriately documented to support any legal or compliance issues.
  • Step 5: Post-mortem. Once recovery has been completed, the process should be evaluated for refinements that will help to reduce the time and effort needed to return to normal operations.

Planning Makes Recovery SOP

It is important to understand your vendor’s level of flexibility and responsiveness should things go wrong. With technical support being one of the most critical customer-facing interactions your company may have, the ability of your vendor to identify, evaluate and recommend the best course of action to address and recover from an unplanned event will be critical to your brand’s reputation in the marketplace. Taking the time to plan can result in your customers never needing to know that your contact center has experienced an event at all. And that’s the best possible outcome for everyone.